Mississippi’s best and brightest

Students, instructors and chaperones of the 2014 Houston Solar Car Team hoist the 2014 Solar Challenge Champion's Trophy in the shop of the Houston School of Science and Technology. The team returned home Saturday night to a hearty welcome of family and fans on the Square in Downtown Houston. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

Students, instructors and chaperones of the 2014 Houston Solar Car Team hoist the 2014 Solar Challenge Champion’s Trophy in the shop of the Houston School of Science and Technology. The team returned home Saturday night to a hearty welcome of family and fans on the Square in Downtown Houston. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

HOUSTON – For the 14th year in a row the Houston Solar Car Team has gone to Texas and beaten every other high school solar car team in the nation.

Sundancer, the name of the Houston solar vehicle, crossed the Solar Challenge finish line in Austin, Texas Thursday afternoon with more than a 150-mile lead over its nearest competitor in the four day hybrid race that saw two days of racing on the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and two days of road racing to Austin.

“The car performed perfectly and did so well,” said Houston Solar Car Team Captain, Kristen Black. “I am so proud of this team. The car was ready, they were ready and we won it all – again.”

Black, a third year veteran of the Houston School of Science and Technology’s solar car program, said there were no major navigation errors, no glaring safety issues and no major mechanical or electrical problems this year.

“I worried about me being the captain of the team that broke the streak,” said Black. “But then we started racing, got out front and stayed out front. This feeling of being the best in this race is what solar car is all about.”

Black and the Houston Solar Car Team accepted their 14th Solar Challenge Championship Trophy at a banquet at the University of Texas at Austin Thursday night.

The team did get four penalty points in one day of racing earlier this week for illegal passing of a slower vehicle.

The team is expected to return to Houston Saturday afternoon.

Houston’s Solar Car Team was the perennial favorite to win the race. The car from Chickasaw County does it with planning, teamwork and a mechanically-sound car.

Twenty-five teams – a competition record – entered this year, racing under a new format called hybrid racing that saw two days of closed circuit racing on the Texas Motor Speedway and two days of road racing from Fort Worth via Waco to Austin.

Sundancer has traditionally done well on the paved NASCAR speedway where consistency pays off. Sundancer is also known for racing hard on the road where the pitcrew is often called on to jump out and fix flats and mechanical breakdowns.

The Houston Solar Car team started winning the event more than a decade ago when only a limited number of schools were racing. Higher gasoline prices and a general trend toward “green” energy have sparked an interest in developing solar-powered vehicles.

The Solar Car Challenge was established in 1993 to help motivate students in science and engineering and to increase alternative energy awareness. The Challenge teaches high school students around the world how to build roadworthy solar cars.

The 2014 Houston Solar Car Team is: Kristen Black, Allyson Taylor, Cody Gordillo, Malik Lawrence, Matthew Hood, Greg Hollingsworth, Zack Mixon, Hayden Powell, Jackson Whitt and college intern Jacob Bridgman.

2014 Houston Solar Car instructors/advisors are: Keith Reese, BB Turman, Anita Ellison and Donna Turman.

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